VICTORY: Alberta to allow rehabilitation of orphan black bears

Russell black bear Kinanechtay Kinan Echtay photo

It’s a good day for the black bears of Alberta. After several years of advocacy by rehabilitators and a strong public campaign in recent months, the government has announced they will allow orphaned black bear cubs to be cared for by qualified rehabbers.

The public and media got behind the issue when an injured and apparently orphaned black bear (named Russell by local children) was repeatedly seen struggling in a field near Calgary late 2017. Though facilities and qualified individuals were ready to examine and provide care to Russell with no expense to the government, officials refused to offer even a temporary permit. Rehabilitation efforts for black bears was outlawed by the province in 2010.

PODCAST: Advocating for Russell

In a news release this week, the Alberta Ministry of Environment and Parks (AEP) stated their new policy “includes a draft protocol that sets the requirements surrounding bear feeding, the suitability of the physical space in which the bears are kept, appropriate veterinary care and what kinds of interactions the bears have with humans.”

This is a clear victory for the hard-working rehabilitators and advocates of Alberta who have fought for years to change an unscientific policy, and the thousands who submitted letters to the government thru petitions and actions.

But the hard work to help animals in Alberta isn’t over.

“I am very happy that AEP has responded to the public request to rehabilitate orphaned bear cubs,” says Lisa Dahlseide, a biologist and a leader in the efforts to change Alberta’s rehabilitation policies. “I hope they also allow the rehabilitation and release of the other banned species in Alberta which include grizzly bears, coyotes, lynx, bobcat, elk, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, raccoons and more.”

Congratulations to everyone who worked on this effort! The Fur-Bearers will continue to monitor the story and provide updates and actions as they’re applicable.

Photo of Russell the orphaned black bear provided

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